College Community Remembers Rev. Joseph T. O’Callahan, S.J.

50th anniversary observance to include wreath-laying ceremony and presentation by Dr. John Satterfield

March 13th, 2014 by 


This two-page spread was included in the 1964 edition of the "Purple Patcher"

On Tuesday, March 18, the College of the Holy Cross will mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of Rev. Joseph T. O’Callahan, S.J., a Navy chaplain and a professor of math and physics at the College, with a memorial Mass and wreath-laying ceremony. Rev. Robert Keane, S.J., special assistant for mission who recently completed 23 years as a Navy chaplain, will preside and preach at the Mass, held at 12:05 p.m. in Mary Chapel on the lower level of St. Joseph’s Chapel. The wreath-laying ceremony will immediately follow the Mass, and take place in the Jesuit cemetery adjacent to the chapel at Fr. O’Callahan’s grave.

In the afternoon, the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md., the NROTC Unit at the College, and the O’Callahan Society will sponsor a presentation by Dr. John Satterfield, author of “Saving Big Ben: The U.S.S. Franklin and Father Joseph T. O’Callahan” (Naval Institute Press, 2011). Held at 2:15 p.m. in Seelos Theater, located on the first floor of Kimball Dining Hall, this event is free and open to the public. Prior to this event, lunch will be available in the Kimball Main Dining Room.

Fr. O’Callahan was the first Navy chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest decoration for valor, for his service aboard the U.S.S. Franklin in World War II. An aircraft carrier known as “Big Ben,” the Franklin was nearly destroyed by a kamikaze attack in the Okinawa campaign in early 1945, which killed  hundreds of sailors. Fr. O’Callahan  organized and led firefighting crews, preventing a potentially fatal explosion, while ministering to the injured and dying sailors.

Satterfield’s book draws on interviews with survivors, the O’Callahan family, and members of the Jesuit community at the College, as well as other unpublished sources to document the actions aboard the Franklin. Following his presentation, Satterfield will host a book signing. Copies of “Saving Big Ben” will be available for purchase at the event through the Holy Cross Bookstore.

Satterfield, an adjunct faculty member at Wilmington University  and retired naval reserve officer, is also the author of “We Band of Brothers: The Sullivans and World War II” (Mid-Prairie Books, 1995).

View photos from the wreath-laying ceremony on the Holy Cross photo blog.

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For additional information, please contact Bridget Cass at 508-793-2419.

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